Telford Tennis Centre one of many Shropshire venues thriving as new members join clubs around the county
Shropshire tennis venues continue to attract new members - with Telford Tennis Centre among the county's success stories since reopening at the start of last month.
Many Shropshire clubs have noticed a strong demand from people of all ages keen to pick up a racket since tennis was allowed to resume earlier this year as Covid restrictions started to be lifted.
The high interest levels are welcome news for the county’s tennis community, with Simon Jones, the chair of Tennis Shropshire, pleased to see tennis thriving.
“It's very encouraging,” he said. "A number of clubs are busy with new membership numbers continuing to grow.
“With Wimbledon being cancelled last year, having that back on this year for people to enjoy at the moment, and having the grass court season going ahead this year and now under way again has really helped.
“It’s great to see programmes and initiatives doing extremely well around the county.”
Telford Tennis Centre is one of the county venues to have noticed an upturn in interest since reopening on June 1.
After being closed for over a year, around 200 players are now playing regularly at the centre, which has four acrylic indoor courts and four more courts outside.
We Do Tennis run the coaching programme at Telford Tennis Centre, with Nigel Hunter, a director of the company, delighted with the response from locals.
He said: “We are running all of the coaching at Telford Tennis Centre in partnership with Telford & Wrekin Council, who are managing the building again.
"The centre was closed for 15 months from the first lockdown last March before recently opening again on June 1.
"There's a great buzz and it’s a great opportunity to be back.
“It’s real testament to a couple of our coaches that have kept people playing in the Telford area in the parks during the time the centre was closed.
“Telford Tennis Centre is such a great facility that’s now back up and running. It’s timed perfectly with Wimbledon taking place and there’s just a really high demand for tennis.”
Nigel is encouraged by the numbers coming along to play at the centre - but stressed there’s room for more with Nikki Hoy and Tim Calver leading the coaching team.
He said: “Having been shut for so long, we were aiming to have 100 people playing regularly by this stage, so to quickly double our initial expectation is a great sign and there's lots more to come.
“We have ran a lot of LTA Youth Start courses, an initial six-week coaching scheme, where children are also given a racket, a shirt and a set of tennis balls.
“We have summer camps planned for the juniors and we just want to continue to drive forward and have a full programme of activities.”
Nigel is keen to get the message out to the local community just what a fantastic facility they have so close to home.
The members of Wrekin and Telford Tennis Community - recently named as regional winner for the Midlands of the Communities and Parks Award at the annual LTA Awards - are among those who already enjoy playing at Telford Tennis Centre.
Nigel added: “The club is based at the centre and it feels that we have a really strong three-way partnership between We Do Tennis, Wrekin & Telford Tennis Club and the council.
"The centre is hidden away at the back of Oakengates Leisure Centre. People probably wouldn't realise that we have such a great facility as this.
“The doors are open again and we’ve got a new team in there, a new energy, so we just want to get as many people playing tennis as we can.”
It’s not just at Telford Tennis Centre where Nigel has noticed a real feel-good factor around tennis in the county.
In his role with We Do Tennis, the company also run coaching programmes locally at Church Stretton Lawn Tennis Club, Cleobury Mortimer Tennis Club, Criftins Tennis Club and Longden Tennis Club.
“We've just never experienced demand and interest levels like there has been since lockdown restrictions started to be lifted,” he added.
“Tennis is an outdoor sport which naturally lends itself to social distancing.
“As a sport, it has just really come to the fore as an option for people to do activity again.”
To find out more about your local Shropshire tennis club and how to get involved, visit www.tennisshropshire.co.uk/venues/
Pictured: Simon Jones, the Tennis Shropshire chair, recently presented Wrekin and Telford Tennis Community with their LTA county award at Telford Tennis Centre.